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Press Release

Press release

€30 million awarded for health research

1 October 2009

A €30 million investment by the Health Research Board (HRB) will support research among more than 200 nurses, doctors, health professionals and academic researchers across Ireland, who are dedicated to turning research discoveries into real benefits that will improve people's lives and deliver better patient care.

Cancer, obesity, tissue regeneration and improving the delivery of patient care are just some examples of the areas that will benefit from the 2009 investment in health research.  

'No one is better placed to understand the needs of patients, or identify how we can improve their care, than people working at the coal face in hospitals and across the health services', says Mr Enda Connolly, Chief Executive at the HRB. 'These new awards have been made to world-class researchers across our health and research system. They have clearly identified how to improve people's lives, patient care and service delivery and shown how this can be achieved through excellent research proposals'.

'We will see a major return on this €30 million investment in health research. In addition to improving patient care, the outcomes of research deliver efficiencies and benefits for the health service. They can also contribute significantly to the economic agenda through the development of new products, medical devices and diagnostic tools, developing our innovation reputation and attracting inward investment through the life sciences industry', he concludes.

'The benefits that can accrue from funding quality health research are clear to see', says Dr Mairead O' Driscoll, Director of Research Strategy and Funding at the HRB. 'For example, just two initiatives that we support are already impacting 3700 patient's lives. More than 3000 cancer patients have had access to latest therapies through HRB support for national cancer clinical trials. And last year more than 700 patients were successfully treated for stroke through an innovative project that provides rapid access to high-risk stroke patients. This project saved lives and reduced pressure on acute hospital services'.  

This year more than 120 awards have been made based upon their scientific merit and their potential to improve health and service delivery, the majority of these will run for three years. All applications are assessed by independent committees made up primarily of international experts. Competition is fierce, with less than one out of every three applicants receiving support.

Some short examples of some selected awards are shown below.


Some examples of awards that received funding:

  • Dr Helen Heneghan, Department of Surgery, Clinical Sciences Institute in Galway is investigating ways to more accurately detect breast cancer before it spreads from the breast and becomes incurable.
  • Dr Kenneth Monaghan, a physiotherapist, will look at the short-and long-term effectiveness of ways to improve patient mobility after a stroke without using prescribed medication.
  • Dr Declan Soden from the Cork Cancer Research Centre is investigating new ways to deliver drugs and genes to internal cancers which up to now have been inoperable.
  • Ms Katie Robinson, an Occupational Therapist working in the Health Sciences Centre in University of Limerick is looking at how best to develop occupational therapy care services for patients with chronic pain based on the latest available evidence.
  • Dr Orla Barry is looking possible ways to treat oesophageal cancer, which is one of the most aggressive forms of the disease in a collaboration between Cork University Hospital and UCC.
  • Dr Michael Dennedy, Specialist Registrar in Enodcrinology and Diabetes, will study metabolically healthy obese patients in a collaborative project involving University College Hospital Galway, NUI Galway and a new obesity clinic at St Colmcille's Hospital in Loughlinstown. (Approximately 15% of obese individuals do not develop type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.) By identifying factors which protect metabolically healthy obese individuals from poor health, they hope to identify radical, new treatment approaches to complement weight loss.
  • Dr Cathal Moran, Specialist Registrar in Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery is looking at ways of regenerating nerves by using special plastic nerve tubes implanted within the body after trauma.
  • Dr Kathleen Bennett from the Department of Pharamacology and Therapeutics in St James's Hospital will study how women affected by breast cancer take their medication and therapies and how that is related to outcomes.
  • Ms Anne Fallon, a Midwife working at the School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies in NUI Galway will compare how scheduled versus infant-led breastfeeding impacts on babies health.
  • Dominic Trepel, Health Economist, UL working with School of nursing in DCU will review evidence on the best screening tools for early diagnoses of depression in high risk groups, such as Alzheimer's sufferers.  Depression amongst dementia patients has severe consequences for both patients and caregivers.

For more information contact:
Gillian Markey, Communications Manager
Health Research Board
m 00353 87 2288514
t 00353 1 2345103
e gmarkey(at)

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